Cambridge SoundWorks Radio CD 745i


Cambridge SoundWorks Radio CD 745i
Sound Buys Product Review By Don Lindich

The Cambridge SoundWorks Radio CD 745i is the replacement for the ever-popular Radio CD 740,a product I’ve recommended for years as a better-sounding, less expensive alternative to the Bose Wave Radio. My readers have purchased them in droves and reported their great satisfaction, which made this review one I’ve looked forward to since the product was announced.

The name 745i makes the radio sound like some kind of BMW, but the i obviously stands for i-Pod instead of (fuel) i-njection. Cambridge’s product planners simply put the i after the name instead of before, as companies are wont to do with iPod accessories these days. Speaking of iPod accessories, he Radio CD 745i is probably the ultimate iPod accessory available because it combines the crystal clear, warm, room-filling sound of the Radio CD 740 with full iPod functionality. A supplied dock connects the radio to an iPod and charges it as well as acting as an interface. A supplied remote controls all of the unit’s functions and controls the iPod, as well. The iPod Mini, iPod with Video, and iPod Nano are all supported. The Radio CD 745i is available in either black or white finish and retails for $399.95 at

The Radio CD 745i looks almost exactly like its predecessor. A large volume knob sits front and center under a bright, clear blue LED display. An array of eight buttons flank the volume control on each side. A headphone jack and auxilary input are provided in front as well.While not as effortlessly intuitive as the iPod it is designed to mate with, the radio was very easy to use. If your iPod has video capability the dock has a video output for connection to a television- a very well-conceived feature I hadn’t anticipated finding on the unit.

The CD player plays MP3 CDs as well as conventional CDs. Up to 295 MP3s can be arranged in29 different folders and accessed by the unit. The radio can read ID3 tags to display track information, a very useful feature given the number of tracks that can be held on a single disc. The FM and AM tuners can store 8 preset stations each. As would be expected in a product of this type, two alarms are allowed for alarm-clock duty. The product is sturdy, heavy and well-finished as befits its asking price.

In use the Radio CD 745i satisfied. I never encountered any kind of skipping or hiss when playing CD tracks and with all sources the music was warm, natural, and enticing. Bass response is solid, if not as even and defined as it is with Polk’s i-Sonic, an admittedly much more expensive product. At high volume levels with dynamic sources such as classical music the 745i can sound just a little bit strained, but this is to be expected with any compact product. Bear in mind these nitpicky observations are being written by an audiophile who tends to be pretty picky, and I thought overall the 745i sounded fantastic overall. If I am happy, I supsect my readers will be completely thrilled with its sound.

The FM sound was highly dependent on the antenna used. With the internal antenna or the supplied wire antenna, I heard hiss on most every station. Using a pair of ordinary $10, unpowered TV rabbit ears as the FM antenna (one of my favorite, most cost-effective tips ever) produced clean, clear hiss-free reception and increased the tuning range, too. If you like to listen to FM plan on getting a separate antenna. No need to spring on a fancy set- just get the TV rabbit ears for $10 and you’ll be set.

Given the similarity in price and the iPod interface I saw the Apple iPod HiFi as a natural competitor to the 745i and spent some time comparing them. The iPod HiFi went a bit deeper in the bass and projected a slightly better soundfield, as may be expected given its larger size. In terms of pure sound quality, however, I preferred the Cambridge SoundWorks product. Given the brand’s audiophile heritage, it is nice to see the audiophiles are still calling the shots in delivering top-notch sound. With the additional functionality of the radio, CD player, alarm clock, and its more compact size, the Radio CD 745i is a compelling alternative and probably a better choice for a lot of consumers.

The Cambridge SoundWorks Radio CD 745i has a BMW-like name, and it delivers BMW quality with top-notch performance, functionality, fit and finish. If you don’t need the CD player, the Radio 735i is available minus the CD player for $299. See them both at

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